The Teen Titans had existed since the 1960s, debuting in a fight with a silly throw away villain “Mister Twister,” but they had been stagnantly filling the role of “a team of side kicks” until this new series completely retooled them, setting the young heroes on the path to finding their own identities and growing into heroes in their own right. It is likely that this growth coincided with the rebellious youth culture of the 1980s, as the series shows many times in which the team is at odds with the authority of the older heroes, something that the Comics Code Authority would not have allowed prior to the Bronze Age. The Titans were able to find their own way of doing things, and it wasn’t portrayed as being wrong as it would have been in the past, but also to the series’ credit it didn’t take the opposite view just to be contrary. This comic put the truth somewhere in between, and forced the reader to form their own moral judgments instead of having a clear pro-authority or moral message. I have decided to list the top five strongest character moments in “The New Teen Titans,” these are moments that would later define the characters either in this series or years down the line.
#5 Robin confronts Batman
Issue: #4 “Against All Friends”
Prior to the forming of the team, Robin comments about Bruce’s refusal to treat Robin as an equal despite him being an adult, citing it as the main reason the two have been growing more distant. In the fourth issue of the series while the team is still very new, all the Titans except for Raven are put into a trance by the Fearsome Five, the villains of the first story arc, and used as assassins to kill the Justice League. The attack begins as soon as the Titans are invited into the watch tower, with the Titans gaining the upper hand due to the League’s refusal to go all out against the younger heroes. During the fight Robin goes one on one with his mentor and berates him for not showing respect to the person who is supposed to be his partner. The reason this is at the bottom of the list is that, it was brought about by a mind control plot device. This is still an affirming moment for Dick Grayson because he does not immediately “come to his senses” but rather confirms that his words truly did represent how he was feeling, though he would not have attacked Batman as the solution to this problem. The above picture shows Robin telling the adults how their heroism earlier in the series basically helped them usher in the end of the world, because of their refusal to listen to Raven’s warnings of her father coming to take Earth. Though it was not brought about through genuine means, this was an important step for Grayson to move out of his mentor’s shadow and the forging of the Nightwing persona.
#4 Cyborg reconciles with his father Silas
Issue: #7 “Assault on Titans Tower”
After a battle with the Fearsome Five, Silas shows up and reveals that he is the one who built Titans Tower as a way to make amends to his son. Victor accuses him of using them as just another one of his experiments and refuses to listen until Silas reveals that the experiment that killed his mother and maimed his son has also given him cancer. He expresses a desire to be a father to Victor with the time he has left. It is in this moment that Victor learns to let go of the hate he had been harboring and his true personality shines through. Anyone who watched the cartoon knows that Cyborg is the excitable guy who loves to hang out with his friends and have a good time; this is the moment where he rediscovers that person buried under all of his resentment and hate.
#3 Wally forgives Raven for her deception
Issue: Various, culminating in issue #14 “Revolution”
Raven had formed this new team in order to fight her father when the Justice League refused to trust her. Wally was one of the more unsure members of the team, so Raven used her empathetic powers to make him fall in love with her, causing him to stay on the team. Even when her deception is discovered, the feelings linger in his head leaving him with severe emotional damage. The scene above depicts Raven finally working up the nerve to apologize for what she did and Wally, who has every reason to hate her, decides to be understanding. While this might just seem like a moment of victimization, it shows Wally’s growth into a hero who understands what is important. He comes to understand that what she did was indeed for the greater good and that her actions were not out of malice but of desperation and fear.
#2 Beast Boy Avenges the Doom Patrol
Issue: #15 “The Brotherhood of Evil Lives Again”
Poor Garfield Logan has one of the saddest back stories out of all of the Titans, no easy feat seeing as included in these are Starfire’s sexual slavery and Cyborg’s mutilation. He watched the Doom Patrol, the only people who were ever a family to him, die. He admits that his lame jokes are a cover up for the grief and guilt he still feels. When confronted by the Brotherhood of Evil, the people who caused their deaths, he reasonably tries to avenge his family only to learn that this fragmented brotherhood seeks to stop a similar plot orchestrated by Madame Rouge and General Zahl, who have betrayed the old brotherhood in an attempt to form their own. It is here that Garfield Logan remembers the lessons that his family taught him; they died for a handful of people without a second thought. It is here that he realizes that they would not have wanted it any other way and puts aside his vengeful desires for the sake of innocents in danger. Though Zahl and Rouge end up dead, he decides that avenging the Doom Patrol was meaningless compared to saving lives.
#1 Raven openly defies Trigon’s will
Issue: #6 “Last Kill”
Raven chooses to leave Earth with her father in order to keep it safe. Upon arriving in the world housing Trigon’s palace, Raven sees a small girl run afoul her father by blurting out that he is a monster. Trigon punishes the child by inflicting waking nightmares upon her. Raven willingly takes the immense pain onto herself in order to ease the girl’s suffering. This ultimately turns out to be futile as Trigon incinerates the small child, claiming that no one should be allowed to subvert his authority. It this moment in which Raven proves that she is not like her father, despite all of his talk of her true nature and destiny. While it is true that she has the same capacity for destruction that her father does, she chooses to help one of his victims in sheer defiance, right in front of the demon lord’s face. Not only does this take a tremendous amount of courage, but it is the moment where she begins to realize that standing by and allowing evil to occur, as dictated by the order of sorcerers that raised her, makes her just as much of an ally to her father as joining him. What is most impressive here is that it shows an act of heroism that is not beating up the bad guy but by taking the pain of another onto herself.